Scientists at RUDN University place pets in the classification of ecosystem services

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Newswise – Scientists at RUDN University conducted a survey of Moscow residents and found out the reasons they have pets. The results proved that pets should be included in the classification of ecosystem services. This will help to take into account the interests of animal owners in urban planning and management. The results are published in the journal Sustainability.

Ecosystem services (various benefits to humans provided by nature) play an important role in urban planning and management. These are, for example, sources of energy, fresh water, a recreational resource (possibility of walking and relaxing in a natural environment). There are several generally accepted classifications of ecosystem services. However, none of them explicitly consider pets. Consequently, the interests of animal owners may be lacking in urban planning and management. Scientists at RUDN University determined the ecosystem services humans receive from pets and compared them to two classifications: CICES (Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services) and NCP (Nature’s Contributions to Humans).

“In urban areas, pets influence people’s lifestyles and well-being. However, both in the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) and in the classification of nature’s contributions to humans (NCP), companion animals such as cats and dogs are not explicitly taken into account, whereas the two frameworks allow to describe the benefits derived from domestic consumption. animals such as cattle. This study aims to contribute to this knowledge gap, ”said Victor Matasov, Ph.D., researcher at the Smart Urban Nature Lab at RUDN University.

Scientists conducted a survey to find out why people in the metropolis have pets and what benefits they get from them. The responses received were then translated into the existing classifications of ecosystem services.

The online survey was conducted in March-April 2020 among residents of Moscow. Authors received 229 responses. The survey consisted of 17 questions divided into three blocks: living with a pet, the availability of urban infrastructure and general information about the respondent. As a result, they identified 12 categories of reasons for owning a pet and found the corresponding sections in CICES and NCP. For example, several reasons at the same time: not to feel alone, for beauty / to admire, to take shelter, correspond to class 3.1.1.2 of CICES “Characteristics of living systems allowing education and training”. And practical functions such as cat hunting for mice – class 2.2.3.1. “Pest control (including invasive species)”.

“With the increase in the number of pet owners, the interests and needs of this distinct stakeholder group must be taken into account in urban planning and management. Incorporating companion animals into classifications and thus assessments of urban ES can be a crucial step towards achieving this goal, ”said Anastasia Konstantinova, Ph.D., researcher at the University’s Smart Urban Nature Lab. RUDN.


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